Milford Man Pleads Guilty to Issuing Phony Septic System Inspections
WORCESTER — A Milford general contractor has pleaded guilty to charges he conducted more than 30 phony septic system inspections on properties throughout the Commonwealth, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.
John Duridas, age 61, pleaded guilty in Worcester Superior Court to charges of Forgery of a Document (2 counts), Violation of State Environmental Code (2 counts), Larceny Over $250, and Identity Fraud. After the plea was entered, Superior Court Judge James R. Lemire sentenced Duridas to three years probation with 500 hours of community service. Duridas is further permanently prohibited from conducting Title 5 septic system inspections.
“The defendant knowingly broke the law by continuing to provide inspections after his license expired,” AG Coakley said. “As a result, homeowners ended up with fraudulent inspections.”
“Schemes like this result not only in frauds perpetrated on unwitting consumers, but in threats to the integrity of the environmental programs that are in place to protect our health and our natural resources,” said Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). “Most Title 5 inspectors do their job the right way. But when rogue inspectors seek to break the law and threaten the environment, just to pocket the money, MassDEP will use all tools available to uncover the deceptive practices.”
The charges are the result of an investigation by MassDEP’s Central Regional Office and the Massachusetts Environmental Strike Force, an interagency unit which is overseen by AG Coakley, MassDEP Commissioner Kimmell, and Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan, Jr. The Strike Force comprises prosecutors from the Attorney General’s Office, Environmental Police Officers assigned to the Attorney General’s Office, and investigators and engineers from the MassDEP who investigate and prosecute crimes that harm or threaten the state’s water, air, or land and that pose a significant threat to human health.
Duridas was licensed to perform Title 5 septic system inspections from April 1995 until June 2007. Investigators discovered that after his license expired, Duridas began performing inspections again starting in March 2008. In May 2008 Duridas’ primary employer, a real estate company, discovered that he was not licensed to perform inspections. Duridas continued to produce and sign inspection reports for clients and property buyers using the signature of a licensed inspector, claiming the work was subcontracted. A septic system inspection is required under Massachusetts law whenever a property is sold or transferred in order to assess the integrity of the sub-surface septage disposal system.
A Strike Force investigation identified at least 33 different properties throughout the Commonwealth where Duridas was hired to provide Title 5 inspections between March 2008 and May 2009. Based on the list of properties associated with his employer, more than 30 property sales identified did not have a Title 5 report on file with the local Boards of Health as required by law. By failing to file the reports with the local boards, he was skirting the regulatory system of the boards in order to avoid detection of his scheme.
A Worcester Superior Grand Jury returned indictments against Duridas on September 24, 2010. Duridas was arraigned on November 2, 2010 in Worcester Superior Court at which time he entered a plea of not guilty and was released on personal recognizance. Duridas pleaded guilty and was sentenced on October 11, 2011.
Members of the public who have information regarding a potential environmental crime are encouraged to contact the MassDEP Environmental Strike Force Hotline at 1-888-VIOLATE (846-5283) or the Attorney General’s Office at 617-727-2200.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Andrew Rainer and Laura Harris with assistance from Massachusetts Environmental Police and MassDEP Attorney MaryJude Pigsley and investigators Paul Anderson, Robert Kimball and David Boyer, all of the Central Regional Office, and Pamela Talbot and Jennifer Macionus from the Environmental Strike Force.